Would you agree that it is not too late to let him explore at our new house, or will he be too domesticated now to risk it?
I have to side with your partner here. Even though your new home may be in a relatively safer area, there are still certain hazards that may be found there. Just a few are:
Woodsy, green areas are attractive to bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, and other predators indigenous to an area. Owls or raptors such as hawks may find a smaller cat a tasty morsel.
- Large Dogs
Unfortunately, dog owners in an area such as you describe, will often let their dogs run loose, and free-ranging dogs often form packs, against which a cornered cat does not stand a chance.
- Other Cats
Your cat could accidentally stray into the territory "owned" by another cat, and find himself involved in a life-and-death battle. Even if he emerged victorious, if the other cat is feral or stray, he could pass on serious diseases to your cat through bite wounds, such as FIV or FeLV . (FeLV can also be passed on through casual contact.)
Consider an Alternative
If you, like many cat lovers, feel that your cat would be happier and healthier by exposure to fresh air and sunshine, consider building an enclosure on the property where your cat can safely enjoy the outdoors. You can find articles with plans, as well as photos, under my DIY Outdoor Enclosures section.
Best of both worlds, in my opinion.